Bilingualism requirements for Supreme Court judges who are said to prefer French

Ottawa’s move to require bilingualism to run for the Canadian Supreme Court has sparked criticism from diversity advocates who fear excluding qualified candidates who do not speak both French and English. Some people are concerned that it limits the talent pool and biases the judicial system.

In 2016, the federal government called for the new Supreme Court judge to be functionally bilingual and, in the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, “representative of the diversity of our great nation.” In February of this year, the government announced that it would amend the Official Languages ​​Act to formally add bilingualism as a legal requirement to be appointed to the Supreme Court.

Brad Regehr, Chairman of the Canadian Bar Association, Cree, calls the proposed requirements a “systematic barrier.”

Salim Mansour, an emeritus professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, said the bilingual-only recruitment policy would eliminate a huge number of monolingual speakers and, to some extent, their perspective.

“It leads to the choice of judicial appointments from a narrower pool of available human resources, and narrower, narrower, smaller, smaller pools, in a deeper sense of meaning, their own. It will be more or less divorced from people. In fact, it has led to the deprivation of more people, “he said in an interview.

Statistics support Mansur’s claim. From October 29, 2019 to October 28, 2020, only 136 of the 397 applicants to the bench were able to speak with lawyers in both official languages, according to a report by the Director General of the Federal Justice Department of Canada. A quarter of the 60 appointed judges were fluent and bilingual.

Mansour believes Anglophone could not compete for his own benefit.

“They basically surrendered and became the gateway mat to 20 percent of Canada … [and a] It’s a federal government that pushes the question of bilingualism and biculturalism in a way that leans more towards Quebec’s interests than the majority, “he said.

“And that has led to an ever-increasing distance between English and French in the Commonwealth, where bilingualism and multiculturalism were originally considered solutions to the problem.”

Federal civil servant

In 1973, Parliament adopted a resolution on the official language of Canadian public services, beginning to emphasize bilingual transformation of the federal civil service system.

William Gairdner, who devoted an entire chapter to bilingualism in his book The Trouble With Canada Still !, told The Epoch Times that bilinguals helped increase Francophone’s employment.

“They tended to choose French Canadians who learn English not only in school but also on the streets, so for them the two languages ​​are very natural, but not for English-speaking people. There was a kind of bias in employment, “said Gairdner, a columnist in the era.

French speakers were no longer underestimated at the federal civil servant level by 1978 and at the management level by 1995. However, the tendency to hire French phones has not stopped.

According to the latest available census, the 2016 Census, French-speaking people make up about 21.4% of Canada’s population today. Meanwhile, according to the latest demographics of Canada’s Federal Public Services by the Finance Commission, as of March 31, 2019, 29.1% of all employees and 32.7% of executives used French as their first official language. ing.

English-speaking bilingual, Geardner says the French are far more focused on keeping religion away from politics and have a tradition of code that contrasts with British customary law. ..

“I think the bilingual French-speaking dominance of civil servants is undoubtedly leaning on how the government approaches Canadians in policy and law enforcement,” he said.

“In addition, there is a particular leftist attitude that accompanies simply being in the French-speaking world in Canada.”

Ian Gentles, a professor of history at Tindale University in Toronto, previously taught at Bilingual Glendon College at York University. He agrees that the French and the British have different perspectives.

“Quebec society, they rejected the Catholic Church about 60 years ago, around 1960, but since then they have been much more left-wing and progressive than other countries,” he said.

“This inevitably affects government policy, as it gives federal civil servants a very liberal, left-wing and progressive tendency, and civil servants have a significant impact on government policy.”

Gentles believes that emphasizing linguistic expression may have unintentionally caused an anti-Western bias, as there are fewer bilinguals than in central Canada and Primorskaya. Still, he only sees an increasing bias in Franco adoption, despite the decline of French in Canada.

“When Francophones become the majority, it’s a self-permanent phenomenon that tends to hire other Francophones just because they understand each other,” he said.

“And it’s endless, it’s getting harder and harder for non-native French speakers to look up, and the rules are getting stricter.”

A recent report from the Department of Canadian Heritage calls on federal officials to “create a work environment where both official languages ​​are fully used,” but bilingual promotion has already exacerbated tensions. According to a Parliamentary survey, there were only 45 complaints about the language requirements of positions in the staffing process between 2014 and 2015, but it has been increasing every year since the Trudeau administration was inaugurated, starting in 2019. By 2020, the number has reached 420.

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